Sri Lanka: mother, artisan and ambassador for gender equality

Selyn has been empowering women in economically marginalized communities in Sri Lanka for over 25 years. Our goal is to help artisans get out of poverty for good and strive to build their confidence through new skills and knowledge and strengthening our artisans’ capabilities professionally and personally. By doing so, these artisans become ambassadors for social change in their communities and contribute to build a stronger Sri Lanka. At Selyn it is Women´s Day all year around with our workforce of over 1000 female artisans! In celebration of International Women´s day, and in acknowledgement of the global call-to-action for women´s rights, Selyn wishes to contribute a success story of one of our women.


Sunethra joined Selyn family in 1995 as a trainee artisan. Through her own dedication and by support of Selyn, she became highly skilled in her craft and took on more and more challenging handwork over time.

Sunethra got married in 2000, became a mother of two sons and resigned from her employment with Selyn. This is a common case for many women in Sri Lanka, they stop working when they get married and start a family.

Selyn as a company is deeply rooted in the Sri Lankan culture and community and we know about the challenges women face, and the social rules that society sets. Gender equality is one of the core pillars at Selyn and we encourage women to continue to work, to build their confidence and be the leaders of their own lives. Therefore, Selyn has created a homeworker model of employment that supports artisans to balance family and work life by providing them with work that they can do from their own home.

“As a mother of a two sons I have to support them and provide for their education,” said Sunethra.  Selyn staff believed in her skills and talent after being with the company for several years. Sunethra was offered production work that she can do at home in her village.

“When my children are in school, I spend my time doing production work for Selyn. This way I am still earning and with my salary I can pay the house rent and my children’s education,” said Sunethra.

Through work and being an active contributor to the family’s economy, Sunethra is building her self- confidence.  She is setting a good example to other women in her community. She is our ambassador for women´s empowerment in her village by encouraging other women to join Selyn. Sunethra trains women who come to work for Selyn. She is expert in handwork and passing her knowledge to other women is empowerment.

Sunethra has been working as a homeworker for Selyn for over 17 years now! We at Selyn are very happy that Sunethra stayed with us all these years. She is one of the best handwork artisans at Selyn, producing beautiful crafts that we are proud to share with our wider Fair Trade community.

Story contributor: Selyn
For International Women's Day 2018 celebration